Photo by Steve Stone.
To relax on the weekends, my boyfriend Mark and I have become vegetables watching animals. The television shows we enjoy feature exotic fish, hippy scientists stalking poisonous serpents, and the secret lives of dangerous beasts (lions, tigers, cheetahs and the occasional water buffalo).
Never are we offered the secret lives of antelopes or three-toed sloths. Antelopes and three-toed sloths make for non-violent programming, and that’s not entertainment. Someone always has to die. I reflect on the numbing effect that tv has, compared to how shocking its content is. It’s like drinking a rum and coke, the upper and downer canceling each other out.
By the time the hippy scientist makes his appearance, I am on speaking terms with the tv. ‘Just put the snake down and walk away’, I say. ‘Put the snake down.’
I imagine a handful of snakes slithering around in the brush, each taking its turn to be held by the tail and dangled in mid-air. The hippy scientist takes photographs, twirls the specimen around, and talks excitedly about how poisonous the snake is, before finally setting it free. Just moments later, it finds itself upside down again, dangled by the next hippy scientist crashing through the rainforest.
When does the snake have the time to gobble up its victims, I wonder. When does it have time to stalk its prey, launch itself in mid-air, wrestle its victim, expand its jaws and digest? When is does it have time to simply be a snake?
All this I contemplate from the comfort of the couch. The watery rattle of the radiator tells me the heat is on. It is February, and a slushy snow remains on the ground outside. I count the hours left to Sunday before it’s Monday again, and the whole, frenzied week repeats itself. Another weekend has come and gone. Life creeps forward, so far, without bloodshed.